The Dim-Post

August 19, 2014

Social media election

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:48 am

The person behind the WhaleDump leaks gave the Herald an exclusive with all the emails about Slater and his prostitute friend. That’s significant for several reasons. (1) The Herald reaches the same conclusions Hager did, so this is an exercise in building confidence and integrity in Hager and his book, (2) it tarnishes Key with some of Slater’s most vile dirt and (3) this seems like a really, really well planned and well executed communications strategy, doesn’t it? 

Cameron Slater and Jason Ede considered themselves masters of political ‘black-ops’. (There was a Dom-Post editorial recently taking Nicky Hager to task for using such a loaded term, but someone who worked for National during their first term told me a while ago, with some amusement, that Ede did, actually refer to himself as a ‘black-ops’ guy, and that this mostly consisted of reading Hansards of Phil Goff’s speeches from the 1980s and 90s and finding ways in which Goff had changed his mind in the last thirty years, then running around the Beehive yelling ‘I’ve nailed the bastard! He’s finished!’) Anyway, Slater and Ede and look like amateurs compared to the black op currently being conducted against them and their party. 

We’ve seen third parties intervene in New Zealand elections before. In 2005 the Exclusive Brethren ran an anonymous negative campaign against Labour and the Greens. They put out a bunch of pamphlets. But that was in collaboration with National, even if they didn’t admit it. I don’t think these people are collaborating with any political party. And if they manage to change the minds of, say, 20,000 voters who switch from National to Labour, then a group of anonymous activists will have managed to change the government. 

That’s a big deal. I’m sure they would say they’re just helping voters make an informed decision by putting information before them. And I think voters should know about National and their contacts with Slater. That was a really stupid, horrible decision and people have a right to know about it. But having a group of anonymous activists breaking the law to target political parties they don’t like and then waging a full-scale war against them in the media during an election campaign is new territory. I don’t think this has happened in any other democratic country before. It’s one of the reasons National are so dumbfounded and clumsy in their responses. They can’t go to Crosby/Textor (or whoever) and say ‘What do we do here? What have your clients in other countries done?’ Because this hasn’t happened to anyone. 

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53 Comments »

  1. If the anonymous Whaledump proves that the theft & selective release & framing of emails is a successful election strategy, you can be sure that activists on all sides will use it in the future.

    *sheds a silent tear in memory of elections fought on policy*

    Comment by rickrowling — August 19, 2014 @ 8:55 am

  2. Matthew 26:52

    Comment by Thumper — August 19, 2014 @ 9:04 am

  3. Anon delivers, as the meme goes. People didn’t seem to mind when Anon helped reveal the rigging of the Iranian presidential election in 2009. You mess with the Internets, you get the guys in the Guy Fawkes masks on your tail. This is political activism for the millennial generation which only the Internet Party in this country shows the slightest grasp of.

    Despite the crocodile tears in the comments above, Hager’s book reveals clearly that cutting-edge politics have not been fought on policy for ages, at least by the Right. I wonder how else the other “side” can react against these tactics – lose and pose as martyrs?

    Comment by doloras — August 19, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  4. I don’t think these people are collaborating with any political party.

    Yeah, they’re doing it for the “greater good”.

    ROFLMAO.

    Comment by Nick K — August 19, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  5. Brilliant media management. This is much better than Hager releasing the raw material himself, which would presumably see him bothered by the plods. This is arm’s length now, and apparently outside Hager’s control.
    Getting the Herald in their pocket is very smart… apparently Whaledumper was in touch with them before the book was published. This explains the good coverage in the Herald, and probably John Armstrong’s being on side.
    Now they should try to get within the beltway. Fairfax is downplaying the story abominably (the whaleoil stories are generally at the top of the “most read” list at Stuff, despite not always being linked from the front page) — They need to throw some fish to the trained seals in the parliamentary press gallery. Get them barking.

    Comment by Alistair Connor — August 19, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  6. Anyone up to the same crap failoil and his dream team are up to deserves to have a bomb like this dropped on them.

    Yes it sucks that this takes the place of discussion of policy, but if political parties don’t want this sort of shit coming out in an election campaign then they always have the option of pulling their fucking socks up, treating the New Zealand public with a bit of respect and not acting like tryhard machiavellian cunts.

    The onus is really on them to clean up their fucking act. If it takes a few election cycles for them to learn then so be it.

    Comment by Rob — August 19, 2014 @ 9:15 am

  7. *sheds a silent tear in memory of elections fought on policy*

    Elections are fought on personality not policy, #teamkey, almost every National billboard has a picture of Key etc etc

    Comment by Ieuan — August 19, 2014 @ 9:16 am

  8. http://judithcollinsoreddieizzard.tumblr.com/

    Is this social media?

    Comment by AHNZ — August 19, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  9. Actually, I think Fairfax’s coverage has been pretty good. At least one article was steaming about how Slater got his OIA requests approved 20 days before Fairfax’s.

    Comment by doloras — August 19, 2014 @ 9:20 am

  10. “Elections are fought on personality not policy” – yes, sadly will be more so, with more negative focus and probably more of the same espionage tactics on all sides from now on.

    *off to research shares in internet security companies that will offer services to political parties*

    *not really*

    #votegotcha

    Comment by rickrowling — August 19, 2014 @ 9:21 am

  11. Pretty hard to fit policy on a billboard.

    Comment by Nick K — August 19, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  12. “I don’t think this has happened in any other democratic country before.”

    Oh dear.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 19, 2014 @ 9:36 am

  13. And I think voters should know about National and their contacts with Slater

    Problem is, how would people find out about such contacts other than by such means.

    The irony is that Slater bought this on himself. His delusions of grandeur and his perpetuation of an image of being untouchable, his constant mantra of “don’t mess with the whale” made him a natural target. If he hadn’t been such a prick, he probably would have gotten away with it.

    So now someone harpooned him and now he is bringing down the entire National ship with him.

    And we are left with some great choices here. A National-led government, with some extremely nasty, cynical, power-hungry pricks right in the middle of it or a Labour-led kaleidoscope of dysfunctional fractions who hate each others guts. Excellent!

    Comment by eszett — August 19, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  14. New Zealand leads the way again! First it was the franchise ending women’s suffrage, now it’s a different kind of suffering.

    Comment by Nick K — August 19, 2014 @ 9:41 am

  15. …”Pretty hard to fit policy on a billboard.” Nah, it’s easy, if you want to – how about:

    “40% top tax to stop child poverty”

    “Minimum wage to $17 per hour”

    “More teachers, smaller classes”

    “More focus on clean waterways”

    “Lower tax, more roads”

    “Harsher prison sentences for violent offenders”

    “Hi I’m Winston and I have been a Sinophobe for 20 years”

    Comment by rickrowling — August 19, 2014 @ 9:44 am

  16. If only Kubrick or Tarkovsky were around. There’s great material here for movie about the mixed blessing of new technology combined with human nature.

    Comment by NeilM — August 19, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  17. They’re not policies as such, they’re slogans.

    Comment by Nick K — August 19, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  18. If only Kubrick or Tarkovsky were around. There’s great material here for movie about the mixed blessing of new technology combined with human nature.

    Two words: Werner Herzog

    Comment by Phil — August 19, 2014 @ 10:01 am

  19. On “Sigh, I wish we were talking about policy”, take a look at what people are reading and talking about. The Dirty Secret is no one wants to talk or read about policy beyond ‘just enough thanks’..

    That stuff only gets you so far. Polices can be well known and unpopular and poorly thought out and riddled with contradictions and yet, ‘National wins again!’

    People don’t give a shit about policy in comparison to all this stuff. It’s like complaining that everyone reads Harry Potter books instead of the silmarillion, or something. Policy is hard. That’s why we have specialists for it. We know kinda what we want. But we all know what people are like, so we talk about people, and judge on that. imho

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — August 19, 2014 @ 10:16 am

  20. Intrigue is, well, intriguing.

    Comment by NeilM — August 19, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  21. Two words: Werner Herzog

    John Key as Grizzly Man?
    “Behind me is Ed and Rowdy, members of an up-and-coming sub-adult gang. They’re challenging everything, including me. Goes with the territory. If I show weakness, if I retreat, I may be hurt, I may be killed.”

    Comment by Joe W — August 19, 2014 @ 10:30 am

  22. Timothy Treadwell’s severed arm, with its still-ticking wristwatch, is a symbol of the complacency which befalls all incumbent governments and the inevitability of their ejection from elected office.

    Comment by Phil — August 19, 2014 @ 11:08 am

  23. I think we like to believe we judge political parties on their policies, but… “If free will exists, why do the tallest candidates with the best hair usually win elections ?” – Scott Adams.

    Comment by Ataahua — August 19, 2014 @ 11:08 am

  24. I wonder if this all gives some context to the various National MP’s who have decided to jump ship this term and last? (aside from the ones John Key woke up and decided to fire of course)

    Comment by Michael — August 19, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  25. So imagine this, you’re a foreign agency who wants to compromise as many New Zealand high value targets as possible. You pick Slater as a weak link and harvest his communications. You give that material to someone you know is going to use it in a manner that is going to create maximum publicity. At the height of the media storm you make a drop of documents making exploits where anyone can get at them.

    Comment by R Singers — August 19, 2014 @ 11:21 am

  26. “Pretty hard to fit policy on a billboard.” – How about Iwi/Kiwi?

    Comment by JB — August 19, 2014 @ 11:58 am

  27. Or “Wave Goodbye to higher taxes, not your loved ones”

    Comment by JB — August 19, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

  28. But you haven’t seen the unions every fricking election spending money and resources
    I mean for f**ks sake your spouses job is to get positive stories about the Green Party
    But that’s fine
    The rank hiporacy of the is nothing new

    Comment by Graham — August 19, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  29. Two words: Werner Herzog

    No. Only Elem Klimov could truly capture all this.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — August 19, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

  30. I’d use the term ‘cyber-vigilante’ rather than ‘black-ops’ for the anonymous (or should that be Anonymous with a capital A?) hackers. Black-ops implies Govt orders from above, whereas what the Anons are doing is more anarchistic.

    Phil #18: There’s also David Lynch or David Cronenberg. Or for saner alternatives, Aaron Sorkin or David Fincher.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — August 19, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  31. @Graham “The Disposable Heroes of Hipoprisy ain’t nuttin’ to f**k with”
    FTFY

    Comment by prgcnt — August 19, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

  32. Cronenberg? We’re certainly seeing what’s on the end of the luncheon fork. Maybe one should go directly to a porn director, since Ede, Williams, Farrar and Slater’s obsessions seem to make Rule 34 redundant.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — August 19, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

  33. Why are you all buying into the idea that this information was obtained by criminal means. I have seen no evidence of criminal activity. There are much simpler explanations that everyone is choosing to ignore becuase they want to frame it as a criminal activity presumably because it makes a better story?

    Comment by Ron — August 19, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

  34. So imagine this, you’re a foreign agency who wants to compromise as many New Zealand high value targets as possible

    Switch “foreign” for “internal” and you have your answer, R Singers.
    Watch this space.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 19, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  35. A force of nature speaks …

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11311070

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 19, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

  36. Farrar is a guest on Mora’s cosy little panel. I kid you knot. The denial and business as usual, sweep it under the carpet collaboration of right wing media hosts is numbing in its moral vacuity.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 19, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

  37. “And if they manage to change the minds of, say, 20,000 voters who switch from National to Labour, then a group of anonymous activists will have managed to change the government.

    That’s a big deal.”

    Yes it is. You can hate on Slater for the dirt he’s accumulated but in several important respects it was relatively secure because he’s easy to “get at” if he doled out dirt that was unproven, sueable or brought shit on National’s head.

    But the same info in the hands of Hager and especially “Anon” means there’s no longer any control over it and while it hurts exclusively the Nats now.. over the longer term its possible opposition pollies, informants, business people and others could be living under a cloud of disclosure and possibly future blackmail. Already with Hager we find out some more of Len’s activities with sex which Slater couldn’t use because it was unproven or in his (Len’s) own time and resources. Anon can cause a lot of grief without consequences that would kill Slater because he’s unknown, we don’t know how he might use the information.

    “Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
    Take thou what course thou wilt!”

    JC

    Comment by JC — August 19, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

  38. @36. Wow. I thought they would drop him, for the election campaign and/or until this had settled down and the scale of the allegations were more clear, anyways. He knew he had this gig coming up, perhaps that’s why he announced changes to his blog, so he would appear reasonable.
    Almost as depressing as the Sean Plunkett interview of Laila Harre.
    Makes me think that once Slater et. al gather their composure and we get operation fightback – coming soon to media outlets near you! – the MSM will just pick up on whatever smear he plants and report it as if Hager’s book never happened.

    Comment by MeToo — August 19, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

  39. A quick glance at Campbell,s slumping viewership is a pretty good example of how interesting this is. What would be a real surprise would be finding out that Cunliffes legal genius that set up his annonymous trust is also a blogger who posts under a pseudonym and has been supplied inside info from the party. Sorry I can’t get interested in any of this and I suggest the press gallery all take a sabbatical of 12 months to experience what normal people are interested in…sheesh they must spend all of their lives gossiping to avoid analysing any policy.

    Comment by David — August 19, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

  40. Already with Hager we find out some more of Len’s activities with sex which Slater couldn’t use because it was unproven or in his (Len’s) own time and resources. Anon can cause a lot of grief without consequences that would kill Slater because he’s unknown, we don’t know how he might use the information.

    Not really – I think we have a pretty good idea how ‘Anon’ is using the information. With respect to “future blackmail”, I’m calling bullshit. Exhibit A: Hager’s book.
    If you want to blackmail people, presumably for political or pecuniary advantage, you don’t write a book / release a trove of emails to someone writing a book.
    I reckon political figures living under a “cloud of disclosure” is no bad thing, particularly if their correspondence contains details activities of questionable legality / ethical conduct. This is at the heart of what can be regarded as public interest. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    In the end though, it comes down to a bit of common sense.
    I’ve taken to heart an axiom delivered to me a decade or so ago by an signals / information security maven; never put anything in an email that you might not want to have pitched at you in court.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 19, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

  41. I’m detecting John Key and his leadership team are more worried tonight that at any time since the book dropped. John Key is floundering and clearly needs to switch into decisive leader mode. (Two last chances for Collins wont cut it) He’s heading into some very damaging shitola….

    Comment by k.jones — August 19, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

  42. “If you want to blackmail people, presumably for political or pecuniary advantage, you don’t write a book / release a trove of emails to someone writing a book.”

    I don’t think thats the problem or indeed the issue. It’s Anon whom we don’t know and has the most potential for mischief. Hager is a known quantity and will do damage but Anon is the guy with all the data and whose long term motives are unknown.

    ” never put anything in an email that you might not want to have pitched at you in court.”

    With you there.

    JC

    Comment by JC — August 19, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

  43. While I’m not sure I like the consequences of compromising other people’s emails….
    1) You can’t “steal” an email, so it’s not theft.
    2) If you don’t want the public to know about your political behaviour, you should either do it in a well-publicised fashion and frame it as taking a stand, or just NOT DO IT.
    3) Given the choice between hacking gormless PR mouthpieces like Slater and having to put up with Slater being lionised as some sort of serious media source, I’d rather they hacked him and used the information gained to reveal exactly what a mendacious idiot he is.

    Two wrongs definitely don’t make a right, but sometimes nobody notices you’re being hit until you hit back. It sucks, but that’s politics for you.

    Comment by Matthew Whitehead — August 19, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

  44. “never put anything in an email that you might not want to have pitched at you in court.”

    With NZ’s OIA culture, public servants already tend to have an informal rule that anything you do might end up on the front page of the papers, even if they sometimes slip up.

    Judith Collins seems to have been trying to avoid that type of official scrutiny by writing from her personal address (in today’s @whaledump release) when she sent that direct dial and mobile number to Cam. Surely she couldn’t have been thinking it’d be right and proper for Cameron Slater to be calling him directly, no matter what the circumstance! I guess she didn’t count on someone else’s email being compromised.

    Comment by izogi — August 19, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

  45. He says the same god damn this every interview, this is ridiculous.

    Comment by Michael — August 19, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

  46. Any minute now you are going to realise that the boomerang that the Left has thrown has reached it’s maximum altitude and distance…. There will be tears before bedtime.

    Comment by DD T. — August 19, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

  47. JC, we know you are a National troll, your false concern for others who might be affected is a lame attempt to divert attention away from the shit your party is in.

    Comment by RBG — August 19, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

  48. I’ve had this notion for a while now that liberal democracy isn’t necessarily the product of just human agency but a sort unintended biproduct of technogy. A spandrel.

    The invention of writing – of record keeping – gave us a new form of society – the empire. That could exist because records of grain supplies could be kept.

    The invention of the book coincided with another set of changes in human organisation leading to liberal democracy. Ease of transmission perhaps had a role in moderating patriarchal feuding just as much as any acts of any particular individuals.

    But now super ease of transmission meets super amounts to be transmitted.

    Given the role that social media has had in empowering ISIS maybe technology is once more working against democracy,

    Comment by NeilM — August 20, 2014 @ 12:52 am

  49. And here was me thinking it was the nats abusing their power and working against democracy in NZ ……

    But no its technology ………. dirty ol technology eh ?

    Comment by reason — August 20, 2014 @ 1:11 am

  50. Neil, another National party cheerleader, is keen to widen the focus of the discussion to include ISIS. Hey, look over here everyone! No Neil, the problem with our democracy is dirty tricks from nasty Nats, not technology.

    Comment by RBG — August 20, 2014 @ 7:12 am

  51. ISIS? Fuck me Neil you really are a pathetic piece of shit.

    Comment by Rob — August 20, 2014 @ 8:17 am

  52. @Matthew: “I’d rather they hacked him and used the information gained to reveal exactly what a mendacious idiot he is.”

    Well, here’s something which he blurted at the Herald yesterday:

    Slater said his style of politics differed from many others. “I play politics like Fijians play rugby. My role is smashing your face into the ground. “Politics is a nasty despicable game and its played by nasty despicable people. Where’s the surprise in this?

    If people can’t figure out and have a problem with who he is without public quotes like the one above, or posts like his “feral dies in Greymouth” post which he’s been more than happy to make publicly before any suggestion of a leak, they probably never will.

    IMHO the significance of this book, and the @whaledump leaks we’ve seen so far, is not just the extent to which several top members of a political party and their staff haven’t just been subversively collaborating with such a disgusting excuse for a human. It’s the way in which they’ve been abusing the complete resources of government at their disposal to do it and to amplify everything about him which disadvantages people they happen to dislike or find inconvenient.

    Comment by izogi — August 20, 2014 @ 9:00 am

  53. @52 “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” – George Orwell said it first, but I think his intention was slightly different from Slater’s.

    Comment by Winston — August 20, 2014 @ 12:01 pm


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